Wednesday, 14 September 2011

ODIN: Phottix's New ETTL Wireless Flash Trigger For Canon - FIRST REVIEW!

Hi All,

Just super excited to give you a review on the soon to be released ETTL wireless radio triggers from Phottix - called Odin.  I will be doing a range test and a few other details in another post in the near future.  All photos at the exhibition were taken with a Canon 7D and a 18-135mm stock lens.

Here are pictures of the Odin Canon ETTL speedlight triggering system....

More after the jump....

Allow me to give you a quick run-down of the buttons and display on the controller (called Transmitter Control Unit or TCU)

LCD Panel Display

  • Basically, you have 3 bold lines starting with A, B and C respectively.  I immediately, figured that these were to control the groups in the Canon speedlight system.  
  • Next to each of the 1st letters were 'TTL' followed by '+0.00 Ev'.  
  • There is also a 'CH 1' beside this cluster.  
  • On the top left hand side is a picture representing a camera with the words 'TTL' above it.  
  • Finally, the Odin has a 3-bar battery charge level indicator.

Control Buttons

ROW 1 (left to right)
  • 'OPT' for option (I guess), which on pressing takes you to the ratio control menu
  • 'MODE' which changes (cycles through) the Group Selected {TTL -> M(anual) -> ---(off)} and (flash head) Zoom {TTL -> M(anual)}
  • 'ZOOM' to adjust the flash head zoom manually or automatically through TTL
  • 'ON/OFF' (let me know if you need an explanation on this one)
ROW 2 (left to right)
  • 'READY' lamp/indicator/bulb/LED
  • '-' button adjustor
  • 'SEL' that allows you select rows of either the power settings of each group in default menu, zoom levels in the zoom menu or the channels in both menus
  • '+' button adjustor
ROW 3 (left to right)
  • 'TEST/(flash icon)' that sends a fire signal to each of the group of receivers in sequence
  • 'CLEAR' is basically a reset to factory settings...though I think that when the TCU is switched off, all the settings are reset
  • 'HI/(2nd curtain sync icon)' which cycles through High Speed Sync, 2nd Curtain Sync and normal mode
  • 'bulb icon' to light up the LCD display
One more thing to note is that both the TCU and receiver have USB ports that allow software/firmware updates


Phottix wanted me to help them demonstrate the new Odin at their stand for the PhotoWorld-Dubai 2011 (May 2nd to 4th, 2011) exhibition in Dubai....WITHOUT any prior experience in using it (or reading any manuals as the Odin was in pre-production stage)!

Let me add, here, that I had not read the articles on the Phottix journal and so had no idea that I was about to get my hands on a wireless triggering system that was fully Canon ETTL compatible.  I do remember, vaguely seeing the picture of TCU on the Phottix Journal website...but had not paid much attention to it!  Silly me...but kinda happy in retrospect.  Else, I would be biting my fingers off waiting in anticipation.

On the morning of the 2nd day of the exhibition, Laurence Poon, Director of Phottix told me that he was giving me a new ETTL trigger that was not yet officially launched.  He said that I could play with it and see if I could easily use it.  Didn't think too much of it - actually thought - OK, Mini & Flex (from PocketWizard).  BUT, something was different on this.  There was an LCD screen at the back.

Something in my head caused my heart to beat, just a little, faster.  I wanted to see if I could set it up and use them easily and quickly.  So, after inserting 2 AA batteries in each unit (TCU & Receiver), I slid the TCU on to the hotshoe of my camera and then attached the Receiver to the speedlight hotshoe.  Switched on the 'OFF ON' switch on the receiver followed by the speedlight (making sure I set it to 'ETTL').

When I powered up the TCU (by pressing and holding the red colored ON/OFF switch - didn't realize right away that I had to 'Press & Hold' - to power on & off), I found it simple and straight forward.  If you have used the Canon speedlight 580 EXII, you will have a short learning curve with this device.

When I (half) pressed the shutter release button for focus lock, I noticed the zoom indicator on the flash head matched (and continued to mach) the zoom of my lens!! I was amazed!  I also saw the flash IR beams going out indicating that this system allows AF Assist!

I had a 'HALLELUJAH' moment!  WOW! WOW! (excuse my childish/boys with toys enthusiasm)

So, I pressed the shutter release and got a picture of the Phottix stand BUT there was a black line on the top of the frame (kinda like the one you get at the bottom of your picture when you go above your sync speed, when shooting with a flash).  Hmmm…..dark clouds on the horizon??  Knew that the curtain had to fall some time.  But, I decided to take another picture, thinking (more like justifying) to my self, that I had done something wrong.  Lo and behold, the 2nd shot of the same scene, was a well exposed picture (well, well enough for the settings I had on the camera at the time)!!!

(Later found out from Steve Peer, CEO of Phottix, that the first shot has to be taken as a test for the TCU to 'learn' your camera settings….AFTER THAT....ETTL all the way…Baby!!!!)

I started playing around with the settings, trying all the different buttons…bumping and dropping power (via the +/- settings of the group)…more on this (how to) in a later post.  The speedlight responded as if it was on the camera.

About 5 minutes into this, I realized that there had to be a catch.  IT CAN'T BE THAT GOOD!  I decided to test the range on these triggers.  Now, I hope you remember my 3 part post on the Atlas and PocketWizard comparison?  I did something similar.  I set up a receiver and flash on the Phottix P200 5 section stand (which also looked pretty good - planning on buying 2 of them to add to my similar manfrottos).  Asked someone to stand at the stand (sheesh! me speeke inglish good), while I walked away (backwards) taking photos every 10 steps (or so).  The flash fired all the way till the end of the hall.  Pictures below (click to see the larger images - well not very large!!).


Not a very scientific approach but was extremely happy with the results.  The rest of the day (and the following one as well), I excitedly showed off my new toy (like a kid in a candy store) to all visitors to the Phottix stand!  Got everyone pretty excited about these too.  I just felt sorry for the folks who shared my excitement only to realize that this would only be available for Canon cameras.  OK...Nikon had Joe McNally and there!

I did a couple of quick set ups with umbrellas and some with direct flash, all the while feeling the apparitions of Jedi FlashMasters David "The Strobist" Hobbywan and Zack "One Light Saber" Arias looking over my shoulder each saying/projecting things like:

"You are unwise to lower your shutter speed!"


"Hobby-wan has taught you well"


"No more training, do you require. Already know you, that which you need"
to which I reply

"Then I am a FlashMaster?"

to which I hear

"No. Not yet. One thing remains. Ambient. You must confront Ambient. Then, only then, a FlashMaster will you be." (DAMN YOU win this time)

Below, is what I think are apparitions of the 3 FlashMasters:  David "The Strobist" Hobbywan and Zack "One Light Saber" Arias....not sure who the 3rd one is!!!


Continued playing around with settings and taking photos of people visiting the stand and of the stand itself.  I will admit that my head was
- pretty swollen on account of the fact that I HAD something that other photographers would love to get their hands on and
- spinning due to the fact that ideas and old shoots were rushing in and out of my head with new spins on what was now possible.


A light bulb went on in my head.  If this was mimicking the flash on camera, would it mimic 'High-Speed Sync' and 2nd Curtain Sync with the flash off-camera?  (Actually, I had seen these buttons at the initial stages of looking at the TCU) In short...yes it does!!  These were some of the photos taken (during the entire exhibition):

f5, 1/8000th sec @ ISO 3200 f3.5, 1/8000th @ ISO 400
Photo of my friend and fellow photogtapher - Kashif Javed
f3.5, 1/8000th sec @ ISO 12800
Kashif & a friend of his
f3.5, 1/8000th sec @ ISO 12800

On the 3rd and final day of the exhibition, I brought along one of my Canon 480 EX's (in addition to the 1st 580 EXII set on group 'A' - that belonged to Phottix) and put it on another receiver...set it to group 'B' and fired both flashes.  Enjoyed listening to the zoom motors on both the flash head go back and forth as I zoomed my lens on the camera.  Changed the power of the two groups remotely from the top of my camera.  I also replaced the 480 with a Phottix (manual) speedlight.  It too fired! (though in manual)

Sometime during these 2 days, during a conversation about this product (in comparison to the PocketWizard's MiniTT1, FlexTT5 used with their AC3 zone controller), someone mentioned to me that this was all well and good but the AC3 gave him the option of switching off the zone.

I had nothing to say!  I later tried and couldn't figure out a way to selectively switch off the groups.  The wind started to bleed out of my swollen head.  I had a feeling that the Odin would have to be kicked out of Valhalla (in Asgard) soon.

However (my theme music starts up again), later, I found out from Steve that I could do that too
- just had to press the 'SEL' button to select the group
- then press 'MODE' twice, first to switch to manual (Whoah! Whoah! Whoah! Hold on there horsey!...found out something new here!!) and second to switch off the group!


In my role as an event photographer, this has opened me up (or at least now left me with no excuses) to shoot better pictures.  It is easy, quick and light.  I feel inspired to try new things, with a little more confidence than I normally go with.  With this excitement, I hope to bring you guys and gals a report on my testing of the range and features of the new deity in my life - ODIN!

Wirelessly & Effortlessly!

This is a game changer for Phottix putting them squarely front and centre.  The Phottix Odin is now a step ahead of the PocketWizard ETTL system (MiniTT1, FlexTT5 & AC3 Zone controller) by bringing in canon wireless flash control to the top of your camera
  1. The Phottix Odin is a fully Canon speedlight ETTL compatible wireless trigger
  2. The TCU has a similar sized (in comparison to the 580 EXII) LCD screen with most (if not all) of the relevant controls
  3. Basically, the Odin, in effect, takes out the 580's LCD (& the controls of the ST-E2) and puts them beautifully on top of your Canon camera
  4. It serves as a replacement for the Canon 580 EX, 580 EXII & ST-E2 which would earlier have been placed on the camera hotshoe to act as an infrared controller/transmitter
  5. The same control offered by these (#4) can now be extended using radio based wireless technology
  6. Dynamic flash head zooms, for compatible flashes mounted on Odin receivers
  7. AF Assist beams operate as normal (if they are turned on in camera/flash) when the speedlights are mounted on the receivers
  8. You cannot place a flash on the camera when using the Odin TCU....but who wants to anyway??
  9. It is (or at least should be) compatible with any Canon (& Canon compatible) ETTL speedlight
  10. High Speed Synchronization of up to 1/8000 sec on compatible speedlights
  11. Easily switch to/from 2nd/rear curtain sync by pressing a single button
  12. Has ratio functions like the Canon ST-E2 controller or 580 EX series speedlights
  13. It is not compatible with any ETTL/Legacy PocketWizard systems/radios/transceivers!

Important Technical Specs
(SUBJECT TO CHANGE on final release & as currently claimed by Phottix - I will do my best to confirm these)

Frequency: 2.4GHz
Range: 100meters
Channels: 4
Groups: 3 (A, B C)
Max Sync: 1/8000 sec (on compatible camera-flash combinations)
Batteries: 2 AA each for both TCU & Receiver

Ratio Control - Default Settings Group 'A' Set To ETTL
Group 'B' Set To Manual @ 1/8th Power
Group 'C' Set To OFF
Group 'A' Set To Manual Zoom @ 28mm
Group 'B' Set To Manual Zoom @ 105mm
Group 'C' Set To Dynamic Zoom (ETTL)
Group 'A' Set To Manual Zoom @ 28mm
Group 'B' Set To Dynamic Zoom (ETTL)
Group 'C' Set To Dynamic Zoom (ETTL)
Set To High-Speed Sync Set To 2nd Curtain Sync 2 x AA Battery Cover On The Rear

Receiver Bottom Cold Shoe + ¼” tripod lug

+ Locking Ring
2 x AA Batteries ETTL Pass-Through Hot-Shoe Mount
Group Selection Switch +
OFF/ON Switch
Channel Selection Switch USB Port + 5V DC Power Port

The 2 most common questions I got from visitors to and fellow exhibitors at the show were:
  • "How much does it cost?" and
  • "When will Phottix start selling these triggers?"
Well, I am still waiting for Phottix to give me official word on the status....Looks like it'll in a couple of days from now, so all my fellow Canon shooters can get to the level of our Nikon rivals!!

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention Odin is compatible with the Phottix Strato and Strato II Multi receivers

Visit again soon!

Charles Verghese


  1. The Odin is a fantastic little unit, isn't it? I don't think I've touched any of my manual remotes in the last few months since Phottix sent me the Odin's to test. They truly look like being game changers.

  2. Are there any difference between Odin receiver and Strato receiver (except the USB port)?

  3. @craig - Yeah! They're amazing!

    @fault - Yes. The ODIN is an ETTL trigger (Through The Lens) while the Strato is just 'dumb trigger' (ie it only sends a fire signal)

  4. in manual mode did the adjustment is by 1/3 stop increment or by 1/8 then 1/4 ..i mean by full stop?

  5. I'm thinking of getting the odin ... i have a strato receiver ..
    from the previous comment i see ettl will not work through the strato trigger - was wondering if i will still be able to adjust manual settings on the flash using the odin transmitter.. thanks